After Buddy Gross of Chickamauga, Georgia, moved into first place Saturday in the FLW Tour bass tournament on Lake Tohopekaliga, he said he had found a productive place in the 18,800-acre Florida expanse but probably needed another one for the final round.
"I've got a good little spot — I think I've weighed in 14 of my 15 fish (for three days) from it — but I'm really pushing it to its limits," Gross said in a Fishing League Worldwide release. "I keep looking for another spot, and I think I may have found one this afternoon."
By late the next afternoon, however, the total from the one spot was 19 of 20 and Gross was $102,700 richer. His four-day weight of 85 pounds, 12 ounces produced his second FLW Tour career victory.
"I can't believe this place that I caught these fish at held up. I really believe the Lord just blessed me," Gross said in FLW's Sunday release. In the same area where he caught five-bass limits by 10 a.m. Thursday and Friday but needed until noon Saturday, he had "18 or 19 pounds" by 9 a.m. in the 10-man final round.
"After that it was a grind," he added, having weighed 23-12. "I worked a long time between bites, but I upgraded two more times — maybe three — at my spot."
According to the FLW releases, that blessed place was in hydrilla in the main span of Lake Toho, as the Osceola County reservoir is popularly called. Gross found continued success in a "pocket" in the 30-foot offshore grass line just north of the lock at the southern end of the lake.
"It was special because it had two ditches with clumps in the middle, and the fish were sitting in the clumps," Gross said. "There were 20-foot gaps between each clump, and they'd set up in (the clumps). The first day I caught them, it was in the ditch, but after that everything was on the clumps."
What he called "ditches" weren't any deeper than the surrounding area, he said. They were just open lanes with no grass. The entire spot was about seven feet deep.
Gross mainly used a five- or six-inch, natural-light-colored Scottsboro Tackle Co. Swimbait on an 8/0-sized Owner Beast Flashy Swimmer and a half-ounce white custom swimjig with a 4-inch Scottsboro Tackle swimbait trailer of the same color, the Sunday release said. The same swimjig with a black-and-blue skirt and a green-pumpkin Zoom Z-Craw trailer also came into play. His line was 50-pound-test braid on a Daiwa Tatula SV reel. He fished the swimbait on a 7-foot, 3-inch Fitzgerald Rods All Purpose Series extra-heavy rod and used a heavy-action rod of the same length and series for the swim jig.